When it comes to rooting your phone, you first need to acknowledge whatever you do is at your own risk. A lot of people search for methods to root their smartphones only to back out at the very final moment since it looks too risky and scary. Of course there’s always a chance that you may brick your phone but if done correctly, there is absolutely no risk.

So let’s dive in. We’ll take a look at everything you need to know about rooting your Android phone: What is it exactly, reasons for doing it, reasons for not doing it and finally how to do it.

Android is an operating system (Thank you, Captain Obvious). To understand rooting we first need to understand how Android works. Android is based on what’s called a Linux kernel. You can think of it as a translator, it directly talks to the hardware and does whatever job it is given (Example – Getting the trajectory of an angry bird from the processor). But there are certain things(commands) which it isn’t “allowed” to perform for the average user, for his/her own safety. Further, all the apps are like different users of the operating system. When you agree to the permissions asked by the app before downloading, you are defining what all it can do, what all information it has access to and what all it can ask the Linux kernel to do.

To obtain full control of the device is called rooting. Rooting gives you administrative privileges, meaning you can control every aspect of the device. It gives you the ability to decide what all do you want the users (apps) to be able to do. The behind-the-scenes details of the working of Android OS are hidden from the users, but after rooting it all comes to front for anyone to tamper with and modify. So, rooting gives the user freedom to do quite a lot of new things that wouldn’t be possible on an unrooted device. Why then, do smartphones not come with root access from the manufacturer itself?

The reason is, indirectly, because Android is open source. Google officially maintains it, but it’s free for anybody to take a peek, modify it if they want to, and reproduce (with some minor conditions according to their license). So, consequently top manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, LG like to tweak the Android OS they put in their phones introducing new, often annoying, changes that favor their own companies. We the users care about pretty much just using the phone normally. Nobody really cares who made the phone. Say you get a new Samsung S4. It’s clearly good, that’s why you bought it, and that’s the end of it. But apparently, this makes Samsung sad. Phone manufacturers want the user’s lives to revolve around them, while chanting their brand names all day long. Ever notice a few apps that you never really use but are always “there”? You’re not alone. How does this relate to rooting? Again let’s take an example of desperate Samsung. On nearly all their android devices, they’ve tweaked the OS and implemented their own “TouchWiz” interface. This custom interface is not all that bad, but the thing is, it’s always running in the background, while sucking away battery and RAM. This is just one example. Rooting gives you complete control. You decide what you keep in your phone and not the manufacturer.

Virtually every phone maker does something like this. And then there’s Google. Depending on the Android version, you’ve probably noticed the annoying search bar that always sits on top of the home screen. For the majority, it’s something you may never use but it takes up precious real estate making you choose between one of the two other widgets that you actually liked. Again depending on your Android version, try un-installing the default browser app or the contacts app or YouTube or even the default calculator. You may (or may not) find an option to ‘disable’ it, but not to uninstall it. Clearly, they want us to use these apps, but we’re not even given the option to look for alternatives. So much for being open source. I fear the day when we can’t even take a dump without Google taking an interest.

By now, you’ve probably grown accustomed to these little things that may actually be limiting Android’s full potential. For most, the difference between rooted and unrooted may not be that big of a deal, but for others it’s equivalent to the massive difference between 99% and 100%.

Here are some things one can do with a rooted Android smartphone, to name a few:

•Use Hacking related apps

•Uninstall default apps

•Install Root-Only apps

•Overclock CPU rate

•Improve battery life

•’Reboot’ devices

•Automate tasks

•Complete anonymity using TOR

•Block ads on all apps

•Best of all, Install custom ROMs

Enough encouragement for rooting, let’s see some common reasons for not rooting.

Most importantly, after rooting the entire OS is bare. That raises tremendous security risks. But then again, if someone compulsively downloads apps from sources like torrents, they are equally likely to get infected – rooted or not. Same rules apply – rooted or not. If you are absolutely sure about the source of whatever you download, you can be sure about your safety too. If and when you’ll set out to find the root installation files for your phone, you’ll come across a lot of blog posts and Yahoo! answers with download links, so be sure that the source is legit before downloading.

Sad Samsung and other phone manufacturers give us another reason not to root – It will void your phone’s warranty. Rooting means we can get rid of pre-installed manufacturer apps which is clearly bad for their business. But since we don’t use them so much, what’s the harm really? Contrary to popular belief, this too is not the final blow to rooting. It’s not so devastating as the internet will make you believe. For majority of the devices, rooting is completely reversible. You can think of it as installing a more open OS, one with more options and root access. If we want we can simply install the manufacturer OS again before taking the phone to a support center or something and they won’t be able to tell the difference. Reportedly, on a few high end devices like the Samsung S4, rooting changes certain information within the phone which cannot be overwritten again. But this is a bit of a grey area, it has been reported to work in some cases, but failed in others. There’s too many devices to list here. So, if you care about your warranty, kindly look up more information about your device.

Actually, I usually recommend rooting your phone once the manufacturer warranty time period is over or nearly over. Most phones come with around 1 year of warranty, so why not just wait and feel the original OS experience for a while? And then after a few months, when your phone starts getting slower and your eyes start wandering towards the newer phones on the market, you can simply root your phone, guilt-free. It may even increase your phone’s lifetime after you’ve got your money worth, plus you’ll then be able to appreciate the full power of rooting.

So how exactly is a phone rooted?

Before getting to that, there’s one more thing to clear up. Rooting refers to software only. What I mean by that is, it’s similar to installing windows 7 after formatting XP or installing a cracked game. In most cases we look for the installation file (Google), load it up on the SD card and install it through recovery mode. Whatever you do, first make sure you’ve backed up everything you don’t want to lose (just in case). To root your phone this way, you’ll have to search for the installation files yourself. It would be impractical to list out about a thousand links right here. That’s because every single android phone is just a little bit different. So, the (rooted or unrooted) android OS from Samsung’s S4 may not work exactly right on HTC one. There are subtle differences in the way each phone works and that means to be able to root your phone, you will have to look for the specific root installation file for your exact model.

Once again, after you’ve googled it out and found a good looking source for the root installation file, all you need to do is put it on the SD card and install it through recovery mode. To enter recovery mode, turn off the phone, leave it for a minute and press the power key + Volume key(s) for a few seconds and you will be booted into recovery mode (This may vary with phone models). It’s kind of like the BIOS menu of a computer. You will then be able to see some weird looking options and this is where you must fight the urge to sniff around. You may not get even a confirmation message on some phones for certain actions. If an important file is messed with by mistake, your phone may be bricked. In the recovery mode, for most phones you can navigate through the options by using volume keys, and ‘select’ an option by pressing power key. You’ll see an option that’s something like “apply update from SD card”. This is where you can install a rooted OS from the file you downloaded. You will be taken to the parent directory of your SD card where you can select your (usually a .zip) installation file and again resist the urge to press any button. It usually takes a couple of minutes (up to 5 minutes) and then either the phone will be automatically rebooted or you’ll be back to the main recovery menu where you can reboot yourself. And Voila! Your phone is now rooted and your horizons just expanded.

But hold on. Given that laziness is the mother of invention, depending on your phone model you may have an option for “One-Click Root” methods. Just press a button and you’re done (more or less). This “One-Click Root” methods is available mainly for mainstream smartphones. If you’re unable to use this, you can do it the old fashioned way as discussed above. “One-Click Root” usually comes in the form of an app or a small software for your computer. Again, different “One-Click Root” softwares may not work for all phones. So, you will have to search for this too yourself.

The links below will hopefully narrow it down:

•This page contains a massive compilation by Android Central. Majority of the most popular phones can be found here:

http://www.androidcentral.com/root

One-Click Root methods:

•Z4Root:

http://z4rootapk.com/

•KingoApp:

http://www.kingoapp.com/

•Super OneClick (and support thread):

http://shortfuse.org/?page_id=2

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=803682

There are more softwares and tools than can be listed here. For the majority these links should suffice, but if you’re unable to find your devices here, feel free to search them out yourself. As a rule of thumb, stay well clear of anything you find on a blog with a single post (example). Rooted installations files are usually not officially supported anywhere. If you are not absolutely sure about the source you are using, consider trying again later. It’s possible nobody has yet developed a proper working root OS for your phone model. You may also try dropping in a request in a forum likehttp://www.xda-developers.com/

To learn more about rooting, here’s an excellent article from LifeHacker along with their take on the top 10 apps for rooted phones:

http://lifehacker.com/5789397/the-always-up+to+date-guide-to-rooting-any-android-phone

http://lifehacker.com/5806135/the-10-best-android-apps-that-make-rooting-your-phone-worth-the-hassle



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